Sara and Cesar

Down we go with them

A mother was walking the streets of Coro with her son and daughter a few days ago. The mother, Sara, watched in horror, as her son, César, fell down an uncovered manhole, into the sewer below.

In terror, she lunged into the sewer to fetch her son. Screams of panic followed, and then, silence. A few days later, their bodies were found inside the sewer, miles down the road.

This story has moved everyone who has read it. It says much about the current state of chaos that grips our country – no one has taken the blame, no one has resigned, and a little girl has lost her mother and brother.The story is a microcosm of the Venezuelan struggle – the individual – a schoolteacher, no less – following her noblest instincts, fighting to the death against the incompetence that attacks her.

Few would have learned of this, had it not been for social media. One particular activist, @Ravoix, says that many manholes are uncovered, but that authorities have warned him against taking pictures of them. That, in a nutshell, is the nature of our narco-military regime: good at repression, bad at keeping people safe. “Don’t cover manholes, cover up the information” should be their mantra.

The authorities, in the meantime, are trying to politicize the event. One chavista authority went so far as to hail Sara “our heroine,” as if desperately hoping that Sara’s corageous immolation rubs off on him.

Willy McKey over at Prodavinci has, in my view, a most lyrical take on this tragedy. The highlight:

“Who are the authors of the fact that an uncovered manhole stops being a sign of inefficiency and becomes a symptom? Did those responsible for that manhole becoming a drainage of fear and sadness somehow hope that it was a bottomless tunnel, like our grief, our rage, and our patience? And the only thing we can mutter to ourselves is that “a mother who threw herself into the sewer to rescue her son” has disappeared.”

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    • And so it goes, tsk tsk government thugs for your complete incompetence and criminal indifference to human rights, devoid of any human decency. Keep eating the lomito piece at Lee Hamiltons or the canard a la presse at Lasserre while drinking 25 year old Macallan’s and partying with your teenage mistress, and contemplating how you will spend the next profits from your drug shipments to the gringos.

      How hard do you think Noriega is laughing now. It was good while it lasted, but you killed the golden goose that fed you and now you will stand in line for food at the US federal prison when they snatch you on your next shopping trip to Paris and YOU will be the mistress to someone named bubba. In the words of the godfather – “It’s true I have a lot of friends in politics, but they wouldn’t be so friendly if they knew my business was drugs instead of gambling which they consider a harmless vice. But drugs, that’s a dirty business. ” They should have just stuck to ripping off the oil company. Keep an eye out for black helicopters in the night! LOL

    • In 2014 chavismo blamed guarimbas for the manhole stealing, fitting to their MO, where they blame everything on everybody else to cover their own shady dealings.

  1. Bueno, ahi le mande su Tuitazo.

    (Cosa que mucho borregos adormecidos en Vzla podrian hacer, en muchos casos).

    “Con profundo dolor debo informar que acaba de aparecer el cuerpo de nuestra heroína Sara Lopez y esperamos la aparición de su bebe.”
    169 retweets 10 favorites
    Reply Retweet169 Favorite10 Follow

    @MIGUELCFN Desgraciado. Y nadie se hace responsable por esto? Que te agarren confesado.

  2. In the U.S. an incident like this would lead to news headlines, an outpouring of concern by public officials, a sizable compensation, and the dismissal or punishment of those at fault.

    In Venezuela, Chavista officials would show their appreciation to the mother and son for locating a missing manhole cover so the officials’ cars would not get damaged. I doubt that any Chavista official will attend the funeral.

  3. A sad metaphor for the Country as a whole–a sewer without a manhole cover, into which the innocent/poor/unlucky are sucked, often to their death.

  4. More than anything I am profoundly riled by the opposition who in many cases( though certainly not all) are passive.I have a few friends who continue to spit venom, but most are quiet…and even worse are the numerous middle class and upwards opposition who having dollar accounts keep getting richer while the poor get poorer.The nerve they have to call themselves opposition.Lopez sacrifices himself for his country, rots in jail, and opposition members are still enjoying their benefits in silence.Karma is a bitch.

      • They’re teetering on the verge of the sewer, so we have to push them.
        Sreading the word on how this is fault of chavismo because of their incompetence / stupidity / hatred for the people / indifference / any other bad trait reaches and erodes their base, which is needed to ultimately destroy them as a political movement.

    • “even worse are the numerous middle class and upwards opposition who having dollar accounts keep getting richer while the poor get poorer”

      How are people in the middle class getting richer? What are you talking about.

      • don’t expect specifics, Rory. It’s about this woman’s “friends” on Facebook who have used Cadivi, a scenario that’s extrapolated to a whole nation and serves wonderfully as a pulpit for a sermonizing twit.

        • Because “using cadivi” automatically brands one person as a shit pile in the same vein of capodado or perico silva.

          Applying that logic, the same that could be said about “people stopping the car when they see red light”, so they can’t complain against the government either.

      • The vast majority of what’s left of the “middle class” has been decimated by the devaluation, and, at best, has simply become the upper layer of the poor class.

  5. I have a five years old child. This is a nightmare I have imagined, but it takes Venezuela to make it true.

    Now, one sad fact: these deaths will not change voter behaviour, will not change city policy, nothing will happen. Even the widow is excusing the local chavistas, as someone pointed out above.

    The propaganda machine is already making this woman its tool (Orwell and Arendt were never so right) and soon the whole matter will sink invisibly in the ocean of deaths that happen every week in our country without anyone noticing.

    To the mental cases attacking the opposition, let me tell you this: they are also victims. Many are in prison.

    To the people salaried by the government to follow this blog: justice may never come, but if it ever comes, it will come down hard. You have killed, raped, humiliated, ruined too many people. Even deaths like this, product of your incompetence, indolence and greed, will be brought back into the account of your many faults.

    • Some opposition are incredible and making amazing sacrifices….but most are just waiting passively…doing nothing.Some are even living high on the new exchange rates instead of donating to the poor .Some are even foreigners, whose fortunes are in dollar accounts.I wonder how whole hearted they are about getting rid of their advantages which is why they choose Venezuela in the first place.

      • In times like this, there will always be winners and losers. Justice plays no roll, like when a hurricane strikes, all you can do is pray!

      • firepigette: put your money where your mouth is. If your flippant statements of an airy-fairy nature relate to public figures in the oppo, name names of those you accuse.
        If your flippant statements concern private citizens, then it’s none of your business what they do with their time or money.

        And in the latter instance, I’ll remind you that you are a US citizen who has never voted in Venezuelan elections, you now live comfortably in North Carolina, don’t work there, and as far as I know, don’t donate to the poor in Venezuela.

        That would indeed categorize you as one of the “mental cases” attacking the opposition, as you’ve repeatedly attempted to do before, based on your annoyance with your Facebook “friends” who still live in Venezuela.

      • Yes firepigette is completey lost, please stop commenting as you are not adding to the conversation. Its embarrsing, sorry. Gracias.

  6. La ignorancia de nuestro pueblo es la mayor fortaleza del regimen!
    que historia tan dolorosa! y que asco la maquinaria de control y propaganda que maneja la respuesta y el control de danos ex post.

  7. Years ago my father went thru a similar experience ..but luckily survived . He was walking alone in one of those solitary dark underground parking spaces which exist in the Centro Simon Bolivar when he fell on an uncovered manhole , he managed instinctively to grab on to the rim of the hole holding on for dear life . By happenstance a pair of young men where passing by and on hearing his shouts ran to rescue him He was 82 at the time. At the time the Centro took no interest in keeping its parking spaces lighted or its manholes covered , he could easily have dissapeared and never be seen again .

    It sorrows me very much that such kind of accident could happen again and result in the loss of two innocent lives . Our governments are incompetent , neglecting even the most basic of safety measures in protecting the life of its citizens and yet they are never held accountable for their failures and crimes .

    I sometimes feel that many of our folk can only think in terms of blame or praise when they can relate an event to a living flesh and bone person , that the state is too abstract and impersonal for them to be able to visualize it as someone capable of being held accountable for what it does or doesnt do. Its never the state , its Chavez or Maduro or the people that embody its power and deeds. The state is part of the landscape , of the background of life .!! In other countries the relatives would be up in arms . In Coro its nothing to complain about . Just something that happens by chance. !!

  8. Tragedies such as this one can happen everywhere. Granted, they will happen more often when little attention is paid to city maintenance. There are two things I find disturbing in this story:

    1. That both the Chavistas and Opposition are jumping on this story to make political hay. There is a time and place for politics, but in this case, I find it unseemly and disrespectful.

    2. It took DAYS for them to recover the bodies? Now THAT is inexcusable!

    • So if 25000 are killed by violent crime per year, you can imagine how many more are unaccounted, “lost bodies”

    • What sickens me is that BOTH chavismo AND opposition want to sweep this mess under the rug using the excuse of “please do not politize this issue”, it makes my stomach turn.

    • Roy, I have to agree. This is not really an issue for partisan politics.

      Venezuelans, particularly poor Venezuelans, and particularly kids, met their end in horrible ways due to somebody’s negligence or indifference or stupidity prior to chavismo. That aspect of life is unchanged. Poverty. Indifference to poverty. Poor people dying in grotesque and freakish accidents as a result. It also probably shows what happens when the legal system does not do what it should, and people don’t have to give a crap about what happens if by their negligence a kid dies.

        • Like falling to their death because of no balcony barrier. Like dying because of a mosquito bite. Like being swept into a sea of mud because of a rainstorm and no urban planning…

          • If said balcony never had a barrier in years, the blame is on the one responsible for putting a balcony there (The government if the balcony is in a public area); if the mosquito is carrying a deadly virus the blame is on the government responsible for reducing and controlling the plague’s population; and the lack of urban planning is blame on the government that allowed that urbanization to be built there and the blame is too on the government that allowed those people to live continuously in a dangerous zone.

            But, because the sole mention of the word “government” inmediatly triggers the “antipolitics reflex” on everybody, who will instantly dispatch the argument on the ridiculous base that it’s being “used for partisan politics”.

        • Dying while trying to steal electricity because you think you’re above the “pendejos” that pay their bill is hilarious, and I will point and laugh every time it happens, because for imbeciles like them, is that us the “pendejos” have to pay for a shitty service and the “vivo criollo” is finally getting what he deserves.

  9. The more transcendent tragedy today was when the Totalitarian Regime stopped the UCV students’ March.

    Back in my day, UCV students would have never tolerated it or been so submissive.

  10. I don’t think you can totally blame the Chavistas for this tragedy.

    I lived in Venezuela 1980-1985 (Some very good years for the country). The first six months in Venezuela, I stayed in El Cid,a small residential hotel in Ultamira. Half a block from the hotel was a missing manhole cover. It stayed missing for the entire six months that I stayed at El Cid. Occasionally some one would put a tree branch in the man hole to warn drivers of the danger. At last least once a week I would wake up to a car with its front tire stuck in the man hole.

    It stayed that way for almost the entire 5 years that I lived in Venezuela. I saw many similar maintenance situations in other parts of Caracas. Nobody seemed to take responsibility to perform the required maintenance.

    So even though I am totally anti chavista …. I don’t think that you can’t blame this one on them. Some of this type of behavior (lack of maintenance) just seems to be a permanent part of the culture or psyche of the Venezuelans.

    • chavismo had 17 years to solve those problems.

      They have the power, so they have the responsibility and now they have the blame.

      • you’re missing the point, Ralph. Before chavismo, the opposition had 40 years to fix the problems. They, too, need to be accountable for not always designating money to infrastructure repairs….

        • Yeah, yeah, 40 years and all of that, dude, ok, they didn’t solve it in that time, they had the fault on 1998, now the fault is on the chavista all-powerful regime, that’s the point.

        • No Syd, it was not the “opposition” of today that was in power. Many of the chavistas now were the adecos of back then.

          • Exactly, the ridiculous assumption that everything that isn’t chavismo is instantly an adeco-copeyano is another fallacy that chavismo has seeded in many persons’ heads in this country.

          • you’re right, Carolina. I was not being historically accurate, or precise in my labeling of “opposition”. I should have said:
            Before chavismo, and during the interplay between adecos and the copeyanos, which lasted 40 years, neither party paid too much attention to the regular maintenance of certain infrastructure.

    • That’s not the point. The point is that in any half-decent, half-civilized country, if and when some tragedy like this occurs, the government and the responsible officials take the blame, and are somewhat accountable. Even Adecos/Copeyanos would have acted more appropriately.

      In the USA or Europe, it would have been a big scandal. People getting fired.

      Coincidentally, since you mention “lack of maintenance of infrastructure, countries like the USA can also be culpable (but again, in other much less perverse ways)

      Infrastructure in the USA is in bad shape, and people know it, though, it’s on freaking 60 mins and the Congress all the time:

    • Agree.

      And since we are on the subject of manhole covers, can someone explain to me why so many of them are installed up-side-down? A manhole cover, like a coin, has two sides. One side is flat, and the other has ribs in the approximate shape of a very shallow pyramid. The ribs give it the structural strength to support the weight of a heavy truck in the center. This is the side that goes down. The flat side should go up. This is so cars and trucks don’t go “bump” when crossing over the manhole cover. This should be pretty obvious… yes? Apparently it isn’t. Where I live, a very large percentage of the manhole covers are placed with the ribs up. What is up with that?

      • Uh, they hired people who don’t know how to put the covers?
        Palancocracia might be responsible for that, hiring the most stupid people because they have some relation with the person on charge of doing the hire.

    • Everyone knows there is a deep cultural issue that cannot seem to lead to good government. It just cant be pin pointed and corrected. Will take centuries if the planet last that long. No real hope for a better Venezuela. Lastima.

  11. The difference from the past neglect is that compounding it was a relative lack of money compared to the hundred billion dollars a year in oil revenue that this govt enjoyed for close to 12 years and with which it could have done a much more effective job ot maintaining the infrastructure . The robbing of metal manhole covers has increased ten fold in the last 10 years , what used to be exceptional is now the norm. there is a greater theft of public property than there ever was in the past incentivated by less govt custody and control of public property..

  12. Manhole covers are missing for the same reason that toilet paper was missing from public facilities even before there was a shortage…..people will steal anything that isn’t totally secured.

  13. Less or more money available does not change the nature of the problem. Venezuela is a petrostate with a public treasury at risk from the government of the time. The bureaucrats and politicos aim for power to have the opportunity for pillage, graft, influence and power, and the citizenry raises its shoulders and says: its always been the same….
    There is very little reference how things could be different, how things could work better, and the ones holding the pot have no incentive to educate and bring this change ahead, They rather wait their turn to have a go at the pinata.
    The plan always is to go to Miami and enjoy the riches, cool off ofr a time and some adventurous ones come back to try again after a few years.

    The Chavista mindset in government is same same guanabana on the overdrive oils prices allowed, plus the new and terrible component of a foreign occupation force, bent on de-articulating resistance and keeping control. Their most susccessful strategy, corrupt everyone! so yes I agree cadivi has been a way to target the middle classes and corrupt them too! more.


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